Saturday, August 13, 2011

Of rights-of-way, loans, raises, reorganization, and summer's end

<--This is a Jafabrit picture of the sunflowers at Whitehall Farm. Soon they will be blooming again, with that painful joy of the refulgence of the end of summer.
Dear People: It's a lovely day! Hope you're out enjoying it as those on a semester schedule face "The End of Summer" (see poem below!). Ok, so there's a lot going on in this meeting, even though the agenda looks pretty light at first glance. I've highlighted the major items for discussion that I think people may have thoughts about. Do feel free to read the whole or parts of the packet by clicking the blue link above. So here goes:


First Reading of Ordinance 2011-22
Authorizing Village Manager to Sign Addendum to the
Trailside Museum Inter-Agency Agreement: We entered into an agreement in 2009 with the Trailside/Glen Helen Ecology Inst. to help them get a grant from the Ohio DNR by serving as a "pass-through" for the money (money had to go through a governmental agency); the project is now complete but the ODNR wants to be sure that the museum and restrooms will be open to the public when the museum is open. I support this ordinance.

First Reading of Ordinance 2011-23
Supplemental Appropriation to Flatter Hereford Farms for Fertilizer applied to Farmland: This is a result of the solar farm proposal. That land had already been leased to a farmer who had already applied fertilizer for the upcoming season--which is standard practice in industrial farming. Per contract agreement, since we canceled the contract, we will pay them $2,951.39 in reimbursement costs for their receipted expenses.

Resolution 2011-39 Adopting a Statement of Services the Village Will Provide to Territory Proposed to be Annexed (Dayton-Yellow Springs Rd. ROW)
Resolution 2011-40 Consenting to the Annexation of Territory (Dayton-Yellow Springs Rd.ROW) These two resolutions are regarding the annexation of 1.77 acres of land which currently is the right of way for the Dayton-Yellow Springs Road west of the village, a peninsula of land that is surrounded by village property on three sides. This will allow for construction of a safe entrance to the CBE (Antioch Midwest, etc.) and allow us to extend the 35 mph speed limit to west. (If it stays at 55 mph there, a whole new and much more expensive and larger intersection would need to be designed.) I support these two resolutions.

Resolution 2011-41 Approving Annual Wage Increases for Certain Village Employees We directed the manager at our last meeting to bring forward a resolution raising the pay of all employees by 2% (except the village mgr., clerk of council, village treasurer, and law director), as their annual cost of living raise, retroactive to July 3. This is in keeping with (actually a hair less than) the average raises for public employees in Greene County. I support this resolution.

Resolution 2011-42 Approving a Loan to Antioch Company, LLC I am reluctantly in support of this loan. I do not think it was ideally constructed, I'm concerned that the terms could have been better, and the process was not good. It seems very important and valuable to keep the kinds of excellent jobs that eHDS provides, so I am voting yes. I have heard serious critiques of this from community members, and many of the critiques are valid. I will vote yes.


Discussion of Planning Commission Recommendation to Council to Approve a PUD-R for the Barr Property
In his memo re: this discussion item, Mark explains the revised process that he and Brad Schwab (our planning consultant) proposed, and Planning Commission endorsed at our meeting on Monday, for the Barr Property PUD-R approval request. Staff is alerting us to the Planning Commission's recommendation that we "require that the preliminary plan be reviewed again once project financing is obtained," which is different from our ordinary process. Staff also asks Council to schedule a Public Hearing on the approval request for the Sept. 9th meeting. I support this process and this schedule.
Discussion of Purchase of Pole Setter for Electrical Distribution In our budget this year we approved $100,000 to buy a new pole setter. Kelley Fox, Electrical Distribution Supervisor, feels it's needed to access rear yards, where many power poles are located, without having to bring in trucks, which do much more damage. He found one that has a taller reach and better features, including a bucket attachment so that it can be used for maintenance as well as power pole setting. But it costs more--$124,441. There are adequate funds in the Electric Utility to pay this additional expense, so I tentatively support this, but I'm fairly ignorant about this kind of purchase so I will be interested to hear more.
Discussion of Possible Reorganization of Village Operations This is the most contentious item I suspect. Even before Mark's arrival, the structure of the village operations has been a concern--both of our previous managers during my tenure argued that the manager position has too many demands on it and this makes it likely that some work is done poorly or never attended to, and makes it virtually impossible for the manager to leave for more than a day or two. He has 8 direct reports, and has to back up most of them when they are gone, but there's no one to back up the manager when he's gone. If we could just hire more staff, the solution would be simple. We cannot afford that--and our budget is about to be reduced. The Manager proposes, and I strongly endorse, that we eliminate the full-time planning assistant position and the 24 hour per week economic sustainability coordinator position and combine them into one assistant manager position with a focus on both of those areas. The full package for this one position should cost less than the two positions combined (with all the attendant costs of two positions). The two people in the positions have been contacted and have offered to be of assistance in the transition.

Lots of information in his report about the CBE, the vandalism at Ellis Park, deduct meters (rules have been set, you should be able to get the rules and a list of approved devices, which a plumber needs to install, at the village offices), tree trimming, and the delays to street paving. Take a look!

POEM: Feeling melancholy as I enter this last week before classes begin, when the meetings really kick in. But the ABBA rhyming in this modern poem is lovely, refreshingly old-fashioned. I am glad there's a formalist movement in modern poetry, bringing back the old structures with some nice resistances, such as the 5th stanza below:
Sweet smell of phlox drifting across the lawn—
an early warning of the end of summer.
August is fading fast, and by September
the little purple flowers will all be gone.

Season, project, and vacation done.
One more year in everybody’s life.
Add a notch to the old hunting knife
Time keeps testing with a horny thumb.

Over the summer months hung an unspoken
aura of urgency. In late July
galactic pulsings filled the midnight sky
like silent screaming, so that, strangely woken,

we looked at one another in the dark,
then at the milky magical debris
arcing across, dwarfing our meek mortality.
There were two ways to live: get on with work,

redeem the time, ignore the imminence
of cataclysm; or else take it slow,
be as tranquil as the neighbors’ cow
we love to tickle through the barbed wire fence
(she paces through her days in massive innocence,
or, seeing green pastures, we imagine so).

In fact, not being cows, we have no choice.
Summer or winter, country, city, we
are prisoners from the start and automatically,
hemmed in, harangued by the one clamorous voice.

Not light but language shocks us out of sleep
ideas of doom transformed to meteors
we translate back to portents of the wars
looming above the nervous watch we keep.

Rachel Hadas, “The End of Summer” from Halfway Down the Hall: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 1998 by Rachel Hadas. Reprinted with the permission of Wesleyan University Press.

Source: Halfway Down the Hall: New and Selected Poems (Wesleyan University Press, 1998)

Monday, August 8, 2011

PC: Barr Property Plans

<--Traditional Finnish sauna!

Dear People: This morning I turned in 80 signatures (I needed 35) for my Village Council nomination petition, two days ahead of the deadline (yahoo!). Thanks to all who signed and/or sent in good wishes. I find it's actually pretty heartening to speak to villagers. My experience is that even most people who have disagreed with me on a single issue or vote, or a few votes, are very appreciative of those of us who stick our necks out and try to fill this role to the best of our abilities and with integrity.

Thanks for recognizing our efforts, and don't be afraid to let me know your thoughts on any vote. I really do listen, and hearing your arguments--even if I ultimately disagree--is helpful as I try to have an awareness of the 'pulse' of the village. It may shape a future vote or project in future ways even if the immediate vote doesn't go your way.

Tonight the Planning Commission will be voting on the "Preliminary Plans" for the Barr Property being put forth by Home Inc and their partner for this project, Buckeye Community Hope Foundation, which we discussed conceptually at our last meeting. While I have some logistical concerns, I was impressed by the plans, in general, as was the rest of the Planning Commission, I believe. Home Inc and Buckeye would like to get initial approval for use, density, parking, and open space, and then be able to delay submitting more detailed preliminary plans until after they have secured the tax credits from the highly competitive process. Brad Schwab, our planning consultant, argues that this is a reasonable request due to the uncertainty of the tax credit process, and suggests we allow this. Additionally, as I see it, it allows for a little more time for us to fully digest the plans. I support a modified plan approval process.

Mr. Schwab also recommends that we suggest some design modifications to help make the building fit better with the neighborhood and to keep the units usable for seniors for at least 15 years. They seem reasonable, and I look forward to continued discussion tonight. If we decide on the modified process, we could focus on these kinds of details at a later date.

The only other item of significance on our agenda is Tim Tobey's work on examining the Parks and Rec Master Plan with local people who have a particular interest. I suspect that agenda item could be delayed if the Barr Property plans take a significant amount of time.

Watched a wonderful PBS film, "Steam of Life," about Finnish men in the sauna (available for free streaming until Nov. 1
) last night after our sauna. So I thought I'd end with a poem about women and sauna:

The Bodies

By Elizabeth Spires
Here, in the half-dark of the sauna,
the bodies of the women glisten ...

Naked, disproportionate, lush,
hung and burdened with flesh, they open slowly,
like orchids blooming out of season.

Sweat beads my forehead.
Heat rings my breasts, like circlets,
and I am my body, all shimmering flesh.

Secrets are whispered here. Stories told.
The bodies, alabaster, abalone,
relax, give up their pose, to ask,
How shall we be joined?
How shall we know each other?
By doors, by chains and linkages
through which we shall be
entered, touched, possessed.

I see them, row upon row, the rank and file
of generations moving without pause:
—the bodies of the young girls, the willows,
complete unto themselves, androgynous;
—the great bodies of the mothers,
circled by their little moons, adoring;
—the mothers of the mothers,
the old wise ones, ponderous and slow.
And in another room, not far from this one,
the restless bodies of men, searching
without knowing what it is they search for.
Body of the world! Body of flesh!
Leaving this room, I leave the orbit of women.
I dress and walk into the snowy night,
into the great body of the world,
cold, still, and expectant.
Bodying forth, I am taken by the dark.

What am I? Asked, shall I say:
Struck by a spark, I quickened
and was born to flashing
days and nights, a small significance
of one. I did not wish to change,
but changed, feeling desire and fear
and love, failing many times.
My meaning made, I died,
the windows darkening for the last time.

We move, we love, we cry out,
we hold or cannot hold to what we are
and finally wake to find ourselves
changed beyond all imagining.
Was it enough to have lived?
In that moment of still approach,
will it be given to us to know?

Elizabeth Spires, “The Bodies” from Worldling. Copyright © 1995 by Elizabeth Spires. Reprinted with the permission of W.W. Norton and Company, Inc. This selection may not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Monday, August 1, 2011

VC: Short Meeting, Exec Session, Funny Poem

Hi, folks--Very short meeting tonight, so this will be a short email.


We're discussing only the decision we basically made last meeting to again issue a contract for our trash collection/recycling with Rumpke.

New Business: Raises for our village staff.
(We have a new system in place for determining raises, which we created last year on Mark's recommendation. He's recommending a 2% across the board, cost of living increase for all staff, which is in line (slightly less than) with salary increases for public and municipal employees in Greene County.

Executive Session:
Evaluation of Mark's work and contract negotiation, litigation.

By Tennessee Williams
After you've been to bed together for the first time,
without the advantage or disadvantage of any prior acquaintance,
the other party very often says to you,
Tell me about yourself, I want to know all about you,
what's your story? And you think maybe they really and truly do

sincerely want to know your life story, and so you light up
a cigarette and begin to tell it to them, the two of you
lying together in completely relaxed positions
like a pair of rag dolls a bored child dropped on a bed.

You tell them your story, or as much of your story
as time or a fair degree of prudence allows, and they say,
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh,
each time a little more faintly, until the oh
is just an audible breath, and then of course

there's some interruption. Slow room service comes up
with a bowl of melting ice cubes, or one of you rises to pee
and gaze at himself with the mild astonishment in the bathroom mirror.
And then, the first thing you know, before you've had time
to pick up where you left off with your enthralling life story,
they're telling you their life story, exactly as they'd intended to all along,

and you're saying, Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh,
each time a little more faintly, the vowel at last becoming
no more than an audible sigh,
as the elevator, halfway down the corridor and a turn to the left,
draws one last, long, deep breath of exhaustion
and stops breathing forever. Then?

Well, one of you falls asleep
and the other one does likewise with a lighted cigarette in his mouth,
and that's how people burn to death in hotel rooms.

"Life Story" by Tennessee Williams, from THE COLLECTED POEMS OF TENNESSEE WILLIAMS, copyright © 1937, 1956, 1964, 2002 by The University of the South. Used by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.

Source: THE COLLECTED POEMS OF TENNESSEE WILLIAMS (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 2002)